Should you give away your pictures?

In short, no.

Even if you are a casual hobby photographer, never give away your photographs. Not even if they promise “credit” or “exposure.” Why?

It cost you time and money to create that one photo. Why should anyone get it for free and redistribute it and make money off your image?

Look at it this way:
Most average hobbyist spend at least $300 for a basic dSLR kit, spend time learning how to use it, maybe even a class or two. Every time they pick up their camera, their skill increases. With me so far?

Let’s say a small NPO business contacts you and asks, “hey, I saw your picture and love it! Can we use it? We are a small nonprofit and we don’t have a budget for this. We’ll give you credit.”

Let me tell ya, most (not all, there are exceptions, of course) NPOs are raking it in. They get enough via grants and donations that they can pay their employees and maintain business expenses. Why shouldn’t a photo be considered one of these business expenses?

When they use your photo, they are getting advertisement and exposure for months or even years – and you’ll never see a dime of the money that brings in. As for credit/exposure – think about it. When was the last time you saw a picture on a business website and thought, “ooh, I gotta know who took that picture”?

The Art of Photography: food for thought

People tend to lump photographs into two categories: snapshots and photography.

The distinction between the two are pretty clear. Snapshots are generally considered informal photographs, taken on a spur of moment with no real planning. No studio equipment, no consideration for light, rule of thirds, etc.

And all other photographs are, well, photography. Planned in some shape or form. The photographer puts thought into how their subject is lit, how the ultimate image is pleasing to the eye. Portraits, studio images, commercial images would mainly fall in this category.

I contend that there is a third form of photography: fine art photography. These images are the ones in which a photographer takes it a step further. The images are created with the intent of conveying a message or has aesthetic values.

The distinction between the photography and fine art photography, however, is fine. How do we separate the two? Is there some overlap? (I say yes). When does an image transcend to the status of being fine art? How do we categorize that?

What are your thoughts?